Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tennis Results This Weekend.

I played in the men’s 5.0 bracket this year. There were only 8 players in the bracket, so the first match happened to be the quarterfinal match. My results:

Quarters: played a guy from Houston that outsmarted me. He had a consistent but returnable serve which I got back about 90% of the time. He came in after just about every stroke (serve, return), etc. In the first set we played it pretty straight and I won with one break, mainly because I had more firepower than my opponent.

In the second set, my opponent realized that his strategy wasn’t working too well so he slowed down the game on me. He took most of the pace off the ball and focused on hitting deeper but slower, and occasionally throwing in some moonballs. That was taking me deeper into the court, and since he’s approach the net after aforementioned balls, I had fewer angles to pass him and he had more time to see what I was doing with the ball because I was so far back. I certainly had my chances in the second set, though, and let myself get down instead of executing passing shots. I can’t even tell you how many bad lobs I hit in the second set, but it was at least ten. We went to a tiebreak (they were ordering Komen tiebreakers in lieu of third sets since it was over 100 degrees outside) and I played horrendously there, and that was it.

Consolation Semis: played another guy from Houston. Friends of mine that play League ball in Houston had been looking forward to this match (although they thought it would be in the main draw). The guy had solid strokes but simply didn’t execute anything. He hit a handful of winners but many unforced errors. I spent most of the match hanging out while he self-destructed (just being honest). In the second set I was up 5-1 and he decided to rattle off a bunch of winners (like I said, he was playing sporadic tennis). He even went up 30-0 on his serve before throwing in a couple more unforced errors, and I put away a couple solid shots.

Consolation Finals: I looked forward to this match because I was to play a league teammate who has rotated with me in the #1 singles spot on our team now and then. I knew that he is a serve-and-volleyer and he knew that I’m a baseliner, so it was to be an intriguing matchup, right?

Apparently when a serve-and-volleyer is red-hot it trumps the baseliner. I lost 6-2, 6-2. A friend said “when you told me that score I figured you either bombed or were dominated,” and it was the latter. Now, there were a handful of things that I could have done better (executing lobs, executing passing shots where I actually had a chance to get a piece of the bal), but my teammate was just so solid from the net that he took away a lot of angles that I normally have on a guy. He took away rallies, period. There were perhaps 4 points where I forced him to stay back with deep serves and deep groundstrokes, and I won all of those. He knew that he’d be clobbered in a baseline fight, so he simply removed that possibility, and he did so skillfully and smartly. Kudos to him for that.

Two major points to take from this match:

-I need to create a serve/volley threat; that doesn’t mean I need to serve and volley, but I at least need to do it on occasion to create an environment where the returner has to at least think a little about what he has to do to keep the ball away from me, which creates errors.

-I need to hit my second serve harder; this is more of a systemic problem that affects all my matches.

All things considered, I’m sore and didn’t have a good record this weekend, but somehow I still feel pretty good about the tournament overall. I feel like I got some good match experience that taught me some things I need to look out for in the future.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Can CNN Top This?

Black and single: Is marriage really for white people?

I had to do a double-take when I saw this article. But yes, it's really there.

Future headline: "White and Divorced: More white people divorce than any other race; are they just stupid?"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rice 'n' Noodle

I'm fairly sure I've mentioned this before, but it deserves reiterating: if you are in the mood for great Thai food (or Chinese food, or bubble tea, or chicken wings), go to Rice 'n' Noodle immediately! Rice 'n' Noodle first popped on my radar screen a couple years ago when Monika and I were about to move out of our apartment into the house. I got a flyer on my door and decided to give the place a shot although I thought the name was one of the oddest names I'd seen for a Thai restaurant. I got red curry and loved it. Afterward I continued to get the red curry for a long time, then switched to the (now-standing) panang curry, which is panang perfection.

An aside: I am addicted to bubble tea. For those of you unfamiliar, bubble tea is beverage of some sort (usually tea based, but it doesn't have to be) that contains tapioca balls at the bottom of the drink that come up with the liquid via a large straw. The bottom line is that bubble tea is ridiculously delicious and I never get sick of it. I used to get my bubble tea from a drink stand in Hulen Mall, but 3 months ago the stand mysteriously disappeared. One day I went to RnN with a fellow Noodlehead and was baffled to notice that they had bubble tea on their menu and I'd never noticed. Predictably, RnN is the new fixture for bubble tea in addition to Asian food now. And guess what? They freakin' sell chicken wings, too. Awesome chicken wings. Once I get the owner to copy Wing Stop's ranch and fries it'll be the go to wing place since they actually have slightly better wings than WS.

If you're not already at Rice 'n' Noodle sucking down bubble tea and snarfing down curry, you're missing out. I'll see you there.

Fort Worth Major Zone 2008.

Tomorrow I return to the annual Fort Worth Major Zone. I'm signed up for the 5.0 bracket and play my first match tomorrow at 10:30. I'll report back with results afterward.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Apparently I Shamelessly Love Magic.

When Monika and I went on our Alaskan cruise a couple months ago, the most entertaining show we saw by an order of magnitude was The Great Gaetano. Yes, that's pronounced "Gay-Tano;" yes, he had the fiercest mullet I've ever seen; and yes, he was awesome. He and his assistant, Natasha (or something along those lines), demonstrated illusions of shock and awe to a packed house.

Right now I'm watching "Chris Angel: Mindfreak." I had seen a few ads in Rolling Stone for this show before, but I never thought to actually watch the show. I have to say, this is on TV, so who knows whether the illusions are enhanced in any way, but honestly I couldn't care less. The stuff this guy does is absolutely INSANE! Magic? Illusion? I don't care what you want to call it, this guy is massively entertaining no matter how you classify what he's doing. Check it out!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Last Salad You'll Ever Eat.

Man, I wish they would do this in Texas.


The Outback Bloomin' Onion, mentioned in the article, is actually one of the few calorie-bombs I underestimated before I started perusing calories contents online years ago. Who'd have thought that the BO was not only massively unhealthy, but one of the worst possible items that you can order from a restaurant?

This goes back to my general sentiment these days that more should be done to educate the public; food is another area where I believe people are just flat-out ignorant. At least if everyone can see the data right there in front of them, they have no one to blame but themselves as the scale starts moving toward "obese."

Man, now I'm in the mood for a Big Mac. Seriously! I felt the same way after I saw "Super Size Me." I have known for a long time that it's not the sandwich that kills you, it's the sandwich plus the fries plus the pointless large soda. Hence I occasionally enjoy junking out on a DeathBurger here and there. But then again, the reason I can afford to eat that is because I work out like a maniac. Today when I got home from work I was in no mood to exercise, but despite that ran 3 miles and afterward did 100 pushups and 100 crunches.

Mmm...Big Mac...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why "The Dark Knight" Beat the Hype.

It feels real. In a time where most movies are so chock-full of special effects that it's hard to pick out a single character that seems like they exist in our world, it's refreshing to see a film that's this organic.


After the movie, I actually had to think about where CG might have been involved. Obvious answers are the sonar images from the cell phones. Other than that, though, nothing popped out at me. Everything else felt real. After thinking about it (and discussing with a friend today) I realized that Two Face's "bad" size must have been CG, but at the time I thought it was just amazingly good makeup. The scenes where Batman flies through the air seem unbelievably realistic, but they were probably CG.

The music was breathtaking. The "Joker Theme" (not sure what it's called) with the gradually building tension of the string instruments is somewhat terrifying, especially combined with Ledger's much-acclaimed performance. Which mind you, actually deserves every bit of hype it's received as well. Ledger redefined the character. It's like Brando in The Godfather. It's definitive, and can never be recreated better than this. I thought Jack Nicholson was a great Joker until I saw this performance. Now I think of Nicholson's performance as good and somewhat whimsical, but miles away from capturing the depth of the Joker's madness.

The script was ruthless. Refusing to take the easy way out, the brothers Nolan (who wrote the screenplay) torment Batman and the viewers by presenting us with decisions that return no good outcome. Harvey Dent, through mild provocation from the Joker, turns from Gotham's white knight to a black-hearted maniac driven by nothing but hatred for the loss of his love, who at first we believe will be okay but then is brutally taken away from us. In the end, Batman and others have made decisions that hurt themselves and those they love, but there is no consolation prize; we end in ruin, Batman having shed most of his soul to save Gotham for which he cares so deeply, only to be shunned by society and figuratively cut down for his efforts.

In the end, we are left with a film that takes no easy way out. It shows us hard choices and makes us squirm thinking about how we'd react ourselves. It gives us a villain that is sick, twisted, and not necessarily driven by any reason other than to "watch the world burn." It begins in flames and ends in ruin, and it's the best comic-book movie ever created, period.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Headline Pretty Much Says It All.

...including me. See you on the other side!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Carbolic Smoke Ball.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, puppies and other cute furry animals - please direct your attention to the link on the right, Carbolic Smoke Ball, where you can find the internet's funniest site, including an article today with the best commentary on the Obama cartoon I've seen anywhere.

And don't forget to bookmark it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


It’s rare that a movie outdoes the hype surrounding it, especially when the hype is that it’s outstanding. “WALL-E” one-ups the hype and is a masterpiece. The visuals are stunning, the dialogue is lean, and the plot somehow seamlessly integrates a love story, humor, and a commentary on society in general. Pixar has created fantastic movies in the past, but this one somehow tops them all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Quote of the Day.

From Fight Club (the movie; I've read the book too but it might be phrased differently there):

"Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. "

This might sound overly obvious, but lately I've found that everything requires hard work. Not just hard work, but seriously hard work. Just when you think you are going above and beyond the call of duty, you realize that every other shark out there is doing pretty much the same thing, if not more, so to differentiate yourself you need to work harder. And believe it or not, think less.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Day I Never Thought I Would See.

Tennis is the headline on

And they're right - it was epic.